301: Erik Bosio (& jeff meshel), ‘Galia’

Galia’–Erik Bosio (7.5 minutes, recommended with headphones)

If she’s a boat, then I’m a lone wave
Blown by the dark wind
Broken on dark shores.
Galia, Galia

The wind the waves the tide the dark, the sea the wind the waves the tide, the dark the sea the wind the waves
Oh Galia

If I’m a wave, then she’s a shoreline
Watching the tide rise
Waiting to break me.
Galia, Galia

The wind the waves the tide the dark, the sea the wind the waves the tide, the dark the sea the wind the waves
Oh Galia. Galia, Galia

Big Deal

At last week’s Contemporary A Cappella Awards ceremony in Boston, Erik Bosio’s album “Revery” swept the evening with 9 wins out of 9 nominations, including several for the composition to which I contributed the lyrics, ‘Galia’. I’m duly honored if somewhat embarrassed, as I’ll explain below.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

We’re talking here about the world of contemporary a cappella music, a world I’ve been deeply involved in for 20 years as an activist, producer, singer and all-round nuisance. It’s a newish genre, flowering since the 1990s in Scandinavia and on US campuses. (A Cappella SoTW posts)

Ten years ago, I wrote the text for ‘Galia’, a ‘contemporary classical’ a cappella piece by the immensely talented Italian composer Erik Bosio.


“Revery”–Apple Music

‘Galia’–Sheet Music

This week the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA) announced the nominees for the annual Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA). Erik’s album of his compositions, “Revery”, was nominated for nine awards, including Best Classical/Traditional Album and Best Folk/Word Album (genres have gotten too slippery to pigeonhole).

Four of those nominations were specifically for ‘Galia’, including Best Folk/World Song and Best Original Song.

I think “Revery” is very fine and ‘Galia’ is absolutely great. So why don’t I deserve the award?

The True-ish Back Story

Summer 2013, I was scrounging for material for Vocalocity, the 40-voice Contemporary A Cappella group I was forming on the fly, modeled on the Danish ‘rhythm choir’ Vocal Line. This musical cult I loved so dearly performed covers of pop hits in a rich, musically sophisticated, voices-only context. A vocal symphony of embellished rock covers.

Me, not content to leave alone what’s best left alone, decided to look for some original material for Vocalocity. I asked my Italiano cultist buddy Erik Bosio for suggestions.

Erik is a serious guy. He’s also just about the coolest dude I’ve ever met, from his attire all the way into his heart. He has a great, funky a cappella group, Cluster. He’s the #1 studio person for a cappella in Europe. And he composes choral music, I just didn’t know what kind.

 “I’ll write you a piece,” said Erik.

Thud. [That was Jeff fainting.]

“Just send me a poem you like and I’ll write something around it.”

I have two degrees in Modern Poetry, so of course I couldn’t find anything suitable. I asked Erik to send me a sketch of a theme, which he did; to which, brazen and foolhardy, I wrote the lyrics.

The woman’s name ‘Galia’ means different things in different cultures. In Hebrew, my second language, it means The Wave of God (the water kind, not the ‘Hi!’ kind). Anyway, the name certainly has those connotations for me.

Vocalocity tried their best, but the group’s vibe was Pop, this was ‘serious’ contemporary classical art music, and ‘Galia’ didn’t fly. I believe Erik tried her with a choir in Italy, but that didn’t get off the ground either.

‘Galia’ lay in a drawer for nine years.

Then one day, what do I find in my mailbox?

A stunning, stunning piece of music that has my name on it. With—are you ready for this?—Erik singing all the male voices, 3 women singing all the female parts.

The Tickle of the Fickle Finger of Fate

Let me be very clear—‘Galia’ is Erik’s work. I was perhaps an instigator, a facilitator, and a minor contributor — you can’t even make out some of the words on those long, sub-audible C’s for the basses and those banshee-high B-flats for the sopranos. But they sound okay, so they don’t detract from Erik Bosio’s and Jeff Meshel’s moving composition, ‘Galia’.

When I say I feel my contribution here is minor, it’s not false modesty. It’s unfair that my name gets equal billing with Erik.

I’ve certainly had other experiences in my various creative endeavors. Some have gotten much less recognition or appreciation than I thought they deserved. And there have even been a couple where I thought the warm reception wasn’t totally warranted. But of course, the default mode of an obsessively creative person is disappointment. Never to be satisfied, that’s what stokes that insatiable appetite.

So maybe with ‘Galia’ I won some sort of cosmic lottery for poetic justice, getting so much reward for so little investment.